Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Wed 30.3.11, Afternoon
As we were late and saw that the Sheikh Saed CP looked empty and we could only park really far (beyond the bus stop), since most people had already returned home with their cars, we continued on the American Road and turned off after Zena’s bakery to the Sawahre CP. A few men got out of a car and held the gate open for us. We passed without any inspection under the watchful eyes of a soldier who didn’t utter one word. At the other end of the CP a few civilian guards (from “Modi’in Ezrahi”) said that they wouldn’t speak to us.
We met a student from the American University in Jenin which is affiliated with Philadelphia. His parents live in Ras El-Amud. He crossed with us through the CP into Jerusalem without any check after having shown his documents. A soldier was eying us through the fortified glass panel, but the conveyor belt was out of order and no one opened any bags. The parents and siblings of this student are Jerusalemites with blue IDs, but he and his younger brother were born in Hebron and therefore didn’t qualify for blue IDs. His mother had applied for family unification without success. He was invited by the Security Services, offered money and asked to spy on one of his neighbors, a friend from school but he refused. He was then told that he would never receive the desired paper. He has employed a lawyer, so far to no avail. It takes him about six hours to get to his parents’ house once a week. He tried in vain to enter via Qalandia in the morning, but was refused. He then tried his luck via the Anata CP where the soldier told him ‘to f…. himself in the territories’, so he had no choice but to continue all the way to the Sawahre CP which is closest to his parents’ home. He usually walks from there through the valley for twenty minutes, but we offered him a ride and he showed us where he lives, just next to the gas station at the bottom of Abu Dis. He invited us in, but we politely refused.
The Olive Terminal looked empty and we entered A-Za’im where we were stopped by a few youngsters who warned us that Israelis were not allowed inside. We told them that there was no red sign and they just thought we might have entered by mistake. They are from Issawiye and had come to repair their car and told us that the checkpoints have been removed from Issawiye, but that still Israelis are not allowed to enter the neighborhood, since they might cause trouble (“balagan”). We explained that we knew full well what we are doing and returned after having been questioned by the gild soldier at the CP re our ‘business’ in A-Zayim. On the way back into Jerusalem we turned left at the roundabout at the bottom entrance to Issawiye and indeed there was no patrol car, nor were there any road block at the top next to the gas station.
We were unable to peek into the ‘Shepard Hotel compound which remains half demolished.
Sheikh Jarrah looked deserted, the settlement with its annoying flags and signs has become a fact of life.